Among the 65 nations included in the latest edition of the Freedom House report, the United States ranks seventh. Russia, which was once the world’s most free nation, dropped a point, mainly because of repression. The report also notes that Ukraine, although “partly free,” is still not free.
Ukraine is only “partly free”
Despite Ukraine’s economic improvements and the growth of civil society, Freedom House has deemed the country ‘partly free’. A score of 60 out of 100 on its seven-point democracy scale was dragged down by rampant corruption and political influence from Russia. Despite some political reforms, Ukraine’s future remains uncertain.
Ukraine’s political system is largely oligarchic. The oligarchs control regional politics, the media, and the government. The oligarchs’ dominance also creates deep social distrust towards the government.
Ukraine has made some progress in addressing corruption, but the current round of reforms is still incomplete. Some important areas of reform remain unfinished, including access to public procurements, the security service, and judicial reform.
The United States has provided essential security assistance to Ukraine. The United States approved an additional $800 million in military aid, including the sale of artillery and armored vehicles.
The United States and other Western nations are taking steps to defend democracy in Ukraine. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an attack on political liberties and fundamental human rights. Until the international community understands the threat Russia poses to Ukraine, Ukraine’s future will remain uncertain.
The United States has also approved an additional $800 million in military aid to Ukraine, including sales of artillery, helicopters, and armored vehicles. The United States also approved the seizing of two-thirds of Russian foreign currency reserves. The United States has also pledged to help Ukraine establish a strong anti-corruption agency.
The Ukraine’s political system is dominated by oligarchs, who have used their power to build their own businesses. Many of the oligarchs who took advantage of the Euromaidan protests have increased their political influence.
A major problem with Ukraine is the widespread impunity for human rights abuses. The courts fail to protect journalists, minorities, and others who advocate equal rights. The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine has been created, and the Specialised Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office has been staffed. But there is no guarantee that these reforms will improve the security of the country.
During the administration of former President Viktor Yanukovych, crimes were committed, including the assassination of journalists. The Constitutional Court has launched an investigation into several cases of judicial fraud, including the case of Chief Justice Oleksandr Tupytsky.
Russia’s point decline is due to repression
During the past year, Russia has slid from Partly Free to Not Free, according to Freedom House’s annual survey. It’s the lowest score Russia has received since 1989, when it was part of the Soviet Union.
Russian authorities have used a wide net of restrictive laws to target dissidents and ordinary citizens. Pro-government media outlets have portrayed foreign-funded NGOs as tools of Western intelligence. The Ministry of Justice listed 36 media outlets and 75 individuals as “foreign agents” in December 2021.
There are also a number of legal cases involving physical abuse by government officials. Three judges found that the severity of treatment amounted to torture. It also prompted calls for legal reform. The case remained open at the end of the year.
In addition, Russian authorities have expanded existing restrictions on “extremist” groups. They have also targeted private businesses. Some universities have banned students from participating in anti-government rallies.
The Russian Orthodox Church has a privileged status. The church works closely with the government on foreign policy priorities. But some academics continue to express dissenting views.
Private businesses have been targeted for expropriation by organized criminal groups. There have also been instances of discrimination against ethnic minorities.
The government has taken over several key industries, illustrating the precarious nature of property rights under Putin’s rule. Moreover, there are powerful economic oligarchs who benefit from government patronage in exchange for various forms of service.
The government of Russia has expanded its restrictions to other cultural spaces. It has also renationalized civil society organizations. It has banned individuals associated with extremist groups from seeking public office. It has also increased censorship of social media.
The government has also engaged in highly aggressive transnational repression. It has conducted renditions in eight countries and deported citizens to other countries. It has also arrested thousands of opposition protesters.
It has also imposed high taxes on certain businesses, raising concerns about the security of these companies. It has also expanded restrictions on “foreign agents” and socially useful services.
The government has also taken a new approach to electoral laws. It has used a “nationwide vote” instead of full referendum procedures. There have also been numerous reports of voter irregularities.
Internet freedom misses the mark
Despite significant progress, internet freedom continues to fall around the world. In the latest report by Freedom House, global internet freedom has declined for the sixth year in a row. The report finds that two-thirds of all users are censored if they express criticism of the government, military or ruling family. The report also cites a growing trend towards increased surveillance.
The Freedom House report analyzes internet freedom in 70 countries, representing 88% of the world’s population. The report uses a methodology developed in consultation with international experts to produce country-by-country assessments of internet freedom. The report assesses how countries are able to use the internet for business and social purposes, and whether they are subject to online harassment, hate speech, and other threats to free expression.
The report finds that the world’s worst abusers of internet freedom are China, Syria, and Iran. The report also found that more countries are upgrading surveillance equipment and trying to ban privacy tools such as encryption. The report says that two-thirds of the world’s internet users are subject to censorship if they criticize the government, military, or ruling family.
For the first time since six years, internet freedom in the United States improved. However, the report criticizes the United States for several issues. The report finds that the United States government is trying to undermine encryption, and the U.S. Senate has failed to pass new Internet freedom legislation.
The report found that the United States is tied with Australia and France for the ninth spot in the world. The US has seen a modest improvement in internet freedom due to the USA Freedom Act. However, the report found that policymakers made little progress on other internet freedom legislation.
The report also notes that China has the worst internet freedom environment, for the eighth year in a row. The report also notes that articles on the deadly 2015 chemical blast in Tianjin are blocked in mainland China.
The report also finds that social media has become a weapon used by terrorists and political thugs to attack people online. The report also highlights the risks for journalists, nongovernmental organizations, and the marginalized.
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